OBJ, Lawal, Kalu, Tinubu, others mourn
The remains of businessman and former Chairman, Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua, was yesterday laid to rest in Abuja, amidst tributes.
Funtua died on Monday night after he suffered a sudden heart attack while undergoing routine medical check up. The septuagenarian was buried at about 4.15 pm after prayers were offered at his graveside by the Chief Imam of National Mosque, Abuja, Dr Kabir.
The ceremony which attracted a lot of dignitaries had in attendance, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Mohammed Musa Bello; Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni; former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; former Governor of Zamfara State, Mahmoud Shinkafi; President Muhamadu Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura and former Special Assistant to President Buhari on Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yahaha Lawal.
Other eminent Nigerians who were at the event were Chairman of THISDAY/ARISE TV, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena; Publisher of Leadership Newspaper, Sam Nda-Isaiah; Publisher of Abuja Enquirer, Dan Akpovwa, and Mohammed Idris of Blueprint Newspapers. Also in attendance were a former Governor of the defunct Bendel State, Senator Tunde Ogheha; former Chairman of the EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and Abdulahi Mohammed, a former Chairman of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday said Nigeria would miss the rare qualities of the late business mogul and politician, Mallam Ismaila Isa-Funtua.
Other eminent Nigerians including the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and former Abia State Governor and Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu, also expressed sadness over Isa-Funtua’s passage.
Others, who expressed grief over Isa-Funtua’s death include Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
Isa-Funtua, the founding Managing Director of The Democrat Newspaper and former President of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), died of cardiac arrest on Monday night.
But in a statement by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, former President Obasanjo eulogised Isa-Funtua, saying his contributions to the implementation of the nation’s capital between 1999 and 2007 would not go unrecognised.
Obasanjo added that Nigeria owed the deceased a debt of gratitude for the immense contributions he had made over the years to the development of media industry.
He said: “There is no doubt this is a grievous loss to his family, his friends and associates, Katsina State and, indeed, the entire nation. We commiserate with the entire family of Mallam Isa-Funtua and the great people of Katsina State over this great loss.
“Mallam Isa-Funtua was a well-respected elder-statesman, an accomplished business mogul/publisher, an astute politician and a frontline industrialist whose various contributions to the development of governance and public administration have ensured for him an evergreen memory in the hearts of many admirers and associates, particularly during the administration of H.E. President Shehu Shagari under whom he served as Honourable Minister of Water Resources as well as during his membership of the committee of the 1994-1995 Constitutional Conference that came up with models in key areas of Nigeria’s existence.”
Also, the President of the Senate, Lawan, described Isa-Funtua’s death as a painful loss.
He said: “The news of the death of Mallam Isa-Funtua left me with profound sadness.
“He was a man who touched many lives and impacted the development of Nigeria with his foresight, industry, enterprise, boundless enthusiasm, magnetism, friendliness and accommodating spirit.
“Mallam Isa-Funtua made friends across tribe, religion, generation and class in Nigeria, and touched many lives in public service as well as in his private life.”
Former Abia State Governor and Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Kalu, expressed sadness over Isa-Funtua’s death.
Kalu extolled the virtues of the late Isa-Funtua, adding that the deceased would be remembered for his patriotism and selflessness.
He said: “I received with sadness the news of the demise of prominent industrialist and Chairman of Bulet International Construction Company, Mallam Isa-Funtua.
“He was a statesman, who contributed to national development in different capacities in the private and public spheres of life.
“The late industrialist lived a purposeful life and left behind remarkable legacies for his family, associates and loved ones to emulate. He will be greatly missed.”
Kalu prayed God to grant the deceased Al-Jannah Firdaus and give the Funtua family the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss.
On his part, former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of APC, Tinubu, said Isa-Funtua’s death was a saddening national loss. He was a rare individual of immense talents, abilities and generosity.
He said: “We spoke two days before, as we often do. He spoke vibrantly, with his trademark logic and deep knowledge. We ended our conversation agreeing to resume soon again. There was no indication that this would be our last talk.
“I had the distinct honour of knowing this man for many years. Mallam Funtua loved our nation with uncompromising passion having served Nigeria with dedication and commitment at different times in many important capacities…
“As a long-time friend, associate and in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari, he served as a strong buttress of support for the President and for his progressive administration.”
Lagos State Governor, Sanwo-Olu, described Isa-Funtua’s death as a great loss to Nigeria.
He said Isa-Funtua died “at a time when the country is desirous of more men of good conscience to offer wise counsel in the nation’s drive towards socio-political and economic development”.
The Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Lalong, said the Forum was saddened by the news of the demise of Isa-Funtua.
He said: “This is a great loss to his family, the Northern Region and the entire nation considering his immense contributions to national development. He is one person that has built bridges among people of different ethnic, religious and political persuasions and also encouraged unity, peace and tolerance.”
Delta State Governor, Okowa, commiserated with President Buhari on the passing of his age-long friend and in-law, Isa-Funtua.
He said: “Isa-Funtua’s death was a huge loss to the President and the entire nation, especially at this period in our fledgling democracy.”
On his part, the Edo State Governor, Obaseki, expressed shock over Isa-Funtua’s death.
He said: “I received the news of the passing of Ismai’la Isa-Funtua with a heavy heart. He was a complete gentleman and true Nigerian patriot who showed tremendous interest and contributed immensely to the progress of the country.
“As a longtime close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari, Isa-Funtua proved himself a worthy ally, who was loyal to any course he believed in. He will be greatly missed.
“I share the grief of his immediate family and associates as well as President Buhari. May his soul rest in peace.”